November 25th, 2013
The following is an article my PhD mentor, Alasdair Richmond, wrote for The Conversation.
As Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary looms, time travel is everywhere – on the screen, at least. Famously, the Doctor can whizz through the years using a “dimensionally transcendental” machine, the TARDIS, and make changes to the past as and when he likes. But what is time travel – and how much of “Doctor Who” might really be possible?
A handy definition of time travel comes from philosopher David Lewis. Lewis says time travel involves a journey having different durations viewed from outside (in “external time”) or from inside (in “personal time”). Suppose you spend five minutes travelling aboard your machine, as measured by (e.g.) your watch and your memories. On arrival, you find 150 years have elapsed in the outside world. Congratulations, you have time-travelled. Five minutes of your personal time has covered 150 years of external time.
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November 26th, 2012
In 1956 Hugh Everett III published his Ph.D. dissertation titled “The Theory of the Universal Wave Function.” In this paper Everett argued for the relative state formulation of quantum theory and a quantum philosophy, which denied wave collapse. (DOWNLOAD HERE)
Initially, this interpretation was highly criticized by the physics community and when Everett visited Niels Bohr in Copenhagen in 1959 Bohr was unimpressed with Everett’s most recent development. In 1957 Everett coined his theory as the Many Worlds Interpretation (MWI) of quantum mechanics. In an attempt to circumvent the problem of defining the mechanism for the state of collapse Everett suggested that all orthogonal relative states are equally valid ontologically. What this means is that all-possible states are true and exist simultaneously.
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November 19th, 2012
Below is a list of the top forty philosophers within the last 200 years. The tally was composed of 600 votes. On a side note, I’m quite please to see David Lewis making it up to 13 and C. S. Peirce at 20.
|1. Ludwig Wittgenstein (Condorcet winner: wins contests with all other choices)
|2. Gottlob Frege loses to Ludwig Wittgenstein by 261–160
|3. Bertrand Russell loses to Ludwig Wittgenstein by 280–137, loses to Gottlob Frege by 218–156
|4. John Stuart Mill loses to Ludwig Wittgenstein by 280–135, loses to Bertrand Russell by 204–178
|5. W.V.O. Quine loses to Ludwig Wittgenstein by 291–150, loses to John Stuart Mill by 214–198
|6. G.W.F. Hegel loses to Ludwig Wittgenstein by 290–130, loses to W.V.O. Quine by 214–210
|7. Saul Kripke loses to Ludwig Wittgenstein by 314–138, loses to G.W.F. Hegel by 224–213
|8. Friedrich Nietzsche loses to Ludwig Wittgenstein by 290–117, loses to Saul Kripke by 209–207
|9. Karl Marx loses to Ludwig Wittgenstein by 359–95, loses to Friedrich Nietzsche by 254–138
|10. Soren Kierkegaard loses to Ludwig Wittgenstein by 358–124, loses to Karl Marx by 230–213
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May 1st, 2012
Our usual understanding of possible worlds are simply references to any possible state of affairs. They have no ontic grounding or actuality. It’s a semantic tool. However, there are those who treat possible worlds as actual. (The world actual becomes very fuzzy in modal realism). Philosopher David Lewis is the leading proponent of modal realism (Lewisian modal realism) and he has developed six essential doctrines to understanding modal realism:
- Possible worlds exist–they are just as real as our world
- Possible worlds are the same sort of things as our world–they differ in content, not in kind
- Possible worlds cannot be reduced to something more basic–they are irreducible entities in their own right
- Actuality is indexical. When we distinguish our world from other possible worlds by claiming that it alone is actual, we mean only that it is our world
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